Fantasy, romance and history collide in Christian Petzold’s latest outing, starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski.
In a Berlin-Mitte cafe sits Undine (Paula Beer), a young historian. When her boyfriend Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) suddenly breaks up with her, she tells him, stone-faced: “If you leave me, I will have to kill you. You know that.” These are not so much the words of a jilted lover, as a stark warning from a water nymph. So goes the myth of the figure with whom Undine shares her name.
As Johannes leaves, Undine meets professional diver Christoph (Franz Rogowski), who is instantly smitten with her. A bond built on mutual understanding develops between water spirit and diver, but the very passion that binds them threatens to be their undoing. Do we ever truly know what’s going on beneath the surface?
Undine sees director Christian Petzold teaming up once again with Beer and Rogowski, with whom he worked on 2018’s Transit. Here Petzold draws on European mythology to continue his exploration of contemporary Germany’s ongoing reconciliation with its history; a nation in a perpetual state of identity crisis.
Undine screened in competition at the 2020 Berlinale, where Paula Beer was awarded the Silver Bear for Best Actress.